By Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD
All relationships lose steam at some point. The naturally occurring passion that had once driven them seems to burn out. And the relationships coast. Sometimes life is generous and provides your relationship with some kind of helpful nudge (e.g. a circumstance that makes you more aware of the importance of your relationship). But eventually the relationship loses energy again and seems to come to a stand-still – or at least a very boring, monotonous ‘ride’.
If you are aware of this, you can intervene. Rather than just waiting until it happens and then moving on, you can consciously choose to fuel your relationship regularly. Each day (or certainly each week), you can do things that reconnect the two of you. Sometimes you might simply go to a movie together. At other times, you might talk about your dreams of having a family. There are endless possibilities for how to spend time together.
Of course, every relationship is fueled in somewhat different ways. However, it can help to think in terms of the following approaches (many of which can overlap):
Novelty: Trying new experiences can strengthen your relationship. For instance, you might take a cooking class together or check out a local town. Even if the activity is a total flop, going through it hand-in-hand can bring you closer.
Romance: You can keep the passion alive by regularly doing romantic activities. For instance, you might picnic in a secluded spot or weekend at a romantic get-away. Remember that it’s not just what you do together, but how you approach it (the energy you bring to it) that makes it romantic.
Physical activity: Physical arousal heightens attraction. So, you can keep your interest in, and attraction for, each other going by doing activities, such as hiking, bicycling, or working out together.
Sex: Keep your sex life interesting. You don’t have to look far for creative ideas about this, but it can be as simple as having sex at a different time (e.g. mid-afternoon rather than at night) or in a different place than usual. A weekend away together can be all you need. Also, by focusing on making love to your partner – really taking in that person instead of remaining intent on the ‘end goal’ of orgasm – you can keep your love and sex life alive.
Shared interest: By sharing an interest, you will have more to talk about and do together. For instance, you might both enjoy gardening and landscaping, going to the theater, or reading books. Your interest might even be more about pursuing a dream, such as traveling to all of the state parks or even all of the countries in the world.
These are just a few ways of thinking about keeping your relationship alive. In the end, you need to find what works for you. But remember that long-term relationships are nurtured. They don’t just happen – like having a winning lottery ticket drop from the sky into your hands. So, make thinking about how to nurture your relationship a regular part of your day.
The Art of Relationship blog posts are for general educational purposes only. They may or may not be relevant for your particular situation; and they should not be relied upon as a substitute for individual professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you need help for an emotional or behavioral problem, please seek the assistance of a psychologist or other qualified mental health professional.